4 Effective Ways To Manage Your Time

We’ve all done it plenty of times in our lives. The complaints usually all sound the same – “If only there was more than 24 hours in a day”, “Where did all the time go?”, “Why does time fly when you’re trying to get something done” and the endless list continues. What is it about time that is so elusive? Why does it always seem like it moves slowly just when we want it to fly and flies when we want it to move slowly? It almost seems like it has a mind of its own! But we’re the ones with the minds.

Time Management Training programs are especially crucial for companies where every man-hour made or lost is directly proportional to money made or lost. The more efficiently a company manages it’s time through resources, systems or personnel, the more cost effectively the company operates by saving on time wasted. Hence it is one of our key programs for Managerial Training and Leadership Training.

Time Management, it turns out, is not really one of the unsolved mysteries of the Earth or rocket science that is beyond our comprehension. It takes some organizing and some discipline, the two key ‘ingredients’ to successfully manage your time. Lets look at how those aspects interplay with each other:

Goal Setting

This is the first step to begin with. To-Do lists are generally not very efficient because they only keep getting longer and after a while can get overwhelming. It is also important to set not only the ‘type’ of goals to achieve but the ‘number’ of goals that need to be done as well. Setting a goal of 5 things to do in an hour maybe more efficient than 20 things to do in the same hour. The more realistic the goals, the more achievable they are. ‘How does one manage time more effectively’  is a great article that gives you many simple, yet effective, techniques.

Prioritising

This goes hand in hand with goal setting. Some people attempt to just get ‘chunks’ of work done without prioritizing them according to importance. Consequently sometimes these are the very same people who just never seem to have time to do the things that actually matter. Prioritizing the goals that need to be achieved is the best way to maximize the efficiency of the limited time available.

Scheduling

Next it is important to actually put these priorities down on a schedule or calendar. Especially within a business context, there are often numerous tasks that may sometimes require our attention at the same time and having our priorities scheduled will help in allocating them into available slots through the workday.

Discipline

This is the rivet that holds every other piece of the time management structure together. If this isn’t managed, everything else mentioned above falls flat on its face. Once the system of goal setting, prioritizing and scheduling is setup, it takes a lot of hard work through diligence and discipline to keep the system running smoothly. This is often the area where most people falter. If discipline is maintained within our time management skills, we will discover rather quickly that time need not be our foe but can actually be our friend.

Here is a fun, albeit effective, way to manage one’s time.

 

Why Prioritization is not Prioritized when Managing Time?

Time Management and Prioritization are often topics of discussion in Performance Management and initiatives that are focused on enhancing productivity. But often productivity is unaffected.

Let us start with examining our process of doing To-Do Lists, Activity Logs and other time management tools. We start the day with listing out all the tasks that need to be handled during the day and keep some room to add new tasks that evolve as the day goes on. The focus is on completing as many tasks as possible.

Some people then have a process of prioritization that helps them to determine the order of the tasks. The parameters used vary for each person. However, the prioritized list of tasks does not seem to increase efficiency in people.

David Rock, in his book ‘Your Brain at Work’, has mentioned latest research on brain science that has finally revealed the answer to this conundrum.

 

David Rock states that in effective time management, there are 3 steps:

  1. Creating the list of tasks
  2. Putting them into buckets of Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 based on the complexity of the task
  3. Understanding ones energy levels during the day and performing the level of task based on the complexity

The last step is often overlooked. The Level 3 tasks often require the highest concentration and should be conducted when energy levels are high. This is because the Pre-Frontal Cortex (PFC) of our brain handles the complex tasks and requires a lot of physical energy to do the processing. Level 1 are routine tasks, which have been done before and are stored in our brain and just needs to be recalled. This requires the lowest energy. Hence, Level 1 should be done at times when our energy is at a low.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Steven Covey

When we do not plan our tasks based on these principles, we tend to do the Level 1 tasks as we are able to complete it without too much effort and we are rewarded as we experience instant gratification. Planning our day using all 3 steps of time management gives you the highest likelihood of increased efficiency.

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” – Steven Covey

Make the decision to prioritize your tasks based on both the complexity of your task as well as the energy levels needed to handle the task. More importantly, make the decision to follow what you have decided. This will take you a significantly higher level of functioning.

The Time Management Training conducted by MMM Training Solutions has been repetitively described as ‘life changing’ because it is based on the principles of brain science.

 

Handling Critical Situations Productively – A Leadership Essential

Handling Critical Situations Productively – A Leadership EssentialHandling critical situations is a leader’s responsibility. Critical situations are what are usually referred to as ‘stressful situations’. So one of the key areas of the development of a leader is to learn how to handle stress productively or else their capabilities as a leader will be greatly tested.

“You cannot run at full throttle when applying your mindset to all of the different things running through your head. Focusing is the key to manifesting your desires.” – Stephen Richards

Stress usually in the result of lack of time or competence. But of these two I think that time is most important as we can enhance our competence if we have the time. So let us look at some ways in which we can create more time in our day thus increasing our ability to enhance our stress management.

As with any change in our habits, we need to first shift mindsets or beliefs. Below are three common mindsets that come in our way of being more effective with our time;

  1. “Productivity is directly proportional to the amount of effort we put in.”
  2. “I am the only one who can do it right.”
  3. “This problem is urgent and needs to be attended right away.”

“The essence of self-discipline is to do the important thing rather than the urgent thing.” ― Barry Werner

Here are some effective ways to create more space in your day:

  1. Commit to leaving an hour early from work everyday and vehemently deny yourself the permission to carry work home on the weekends.
  2. Organize your paperwork in three piles:
    • Pile A: Contain items that are of indubitable importance and require your personal attention. Do not have more than 3 items in this category.
    • Pile B: Items that are important but do not need your immediate attention. From this pile sort out the ones that you can delegate. This could contribute to not only your time management but also to the learning of your subordinates.
    • Pile C: In this category are items that could contribute to your knowledge base or passion. Books, newspapers, magazines, TV programs etc. Ensure that you allocate time for this and diligently not allow spill over as this is the category that could make you stray.
  3. Ensure that you throw away everything that not important or urgent. Use the question asked by the legendary Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., ex. President and CEO of General Motors: “What is the worst that can happen if I throw this out?” to help you decide which ones you need to discard.
  4. Allocate half a day a week towards time to introspect. A new and fresh environment could give you the space to break out of the routines and tickle your innovation.

“You get to decide where your time goes. You can either spend it moving forward, or you can spend it putting out fires. You decide. And if you don’t decide, others will decide for you.” ― Tony Morgan

 Stress and TimeManagement Training is a part of our leadership development programs because of the immense impact it has on productivity. Contact us to know more about our leadership programs.

Online Training – A Platform for Leadership Development?

After 25 years of conducting face-to-face leadership training, one day I was introspecting on the new buzzword ‘Adaptive Leadership’. So I asked myself, “Am I an adaptive leader? With all the technological advances, am I hiding behind face-to-face training because it is in my comfort zone?”

So what are the issues that businesses are faced with today? Rapidly changing environments, overworked staff, attrition and the lack of time for leadership development. Online training………… I pondered; it will be able to provide the training amidst these challenges. But the thought of online training invoked a lot of negative emotions in me. I shrugged away the thought instantly. But as soon as I did this I quietly questioned the flexibility of my leadership.

But the universe has an amazing way of pushing you into your areas of discomfort. Two days later I was in my office when I got a call from a French woman who wanted to explore the feasibility of conducting online training for her staff from USA, Europe, Asia Pacific and India. I was candid about my fears about the efficacy. But she had done her homework and encouraged me to conduct a pilot.

And we did……. And I am glad we did because the audience thoroughly enjoyed it and could not stop talking about the benefits. This outstanding success led MMM Training Solutions to launch soft skills training using the online platform. The advantages are many and the most significant are: short sessions, lower training costs, trainees can do it from their desks, they can interact with their peers sitting in different parts of the world.

The main challenge is that the topics have to carefully chosen and the content has to be designed with careful attention to the fact that there is no video available. But as we ran the programs we saw clearly that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Our French client summed it up when she simply said, “Superb”.

Come join us for our second free online training session, which we will be conducting on April 16th at 7pm Indian Standard Time. Space is limited so sign up at the earliest by sending your name and email id to administration@mmmts.com.

 

Business Communication: The Reader’s Perspective

Here is a story that will highlight the importance of clarity in written communication:

A blind boy once sat at the side of a busy pavement with a hat placed in front of him. He had a hand-written sign that said: “I am blind. Please help.”

Passers-by hardly took notice of the boy and there were only a few coins in his hat.
A man who was passing by stopped beside the boy. He took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat. He then looked at the signboard, took it and wrote a few words on it. “Here you go”, he said and placed it where everyone could see, and then walked away.

Soon the hat began to fill up. The young boy was pleasantly surprised and happy. Later that day, the man who changed the signboard came by. He asked the boy, “How are things?” The boy recognized the man’s voice and said, “Hey mister, were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write?”

The man said, “I wrote what you wanted to really tell them. It was the same thing that you meant, but only written in a different way.”

He had written: “Today is a beautiful day. But I cannot see it.”

This short story indicates that communication can be made more effective by exploring a different perspective. You can see more results if you do so. This is especially true in written communication. In business communication, it is essential to think from the perspective of the reader. This will improve clarity and help the reader to understand better.

Health Is Wealth

This article is second to a series of topics that was previously covered in the MMMTS blog. Like the previous one that was covered (The Pursuit of HappYness), this furthers upon a talk given by Mr. R. Gopalakrishnan, Executive Director – Tata Sons, who had addressed the youth present at the Indian Institute of Management, a premier MBA institute of India.

In today’s fast paced corporate world, everyone is in a race with time – deadlines have to be met, clients need to be satisfied and performance has to be at its peak; in the process the most vital aspect of existence is neglected – one’s health.

Furthering Gopalakrishnan’s view, I am of the opinion that it is imperative that young working professionals need to take extreme care of their health, especially in the first 5 – 7 years of their career. This is the time when habits – good or bad – get developed and sustained. During the early working years, a proper regime of exercise and diet can do wonders to health in the future. At the same time, this is a period where the greatest neglect of youthful health occurs. This is when normally active people become sedentary workers, alcohol becomes the social pre-requisite, cigarettes become the nocturnal wonder stick and rich food becomes a common parlance.

As much as youth is the best period of one’s life, it is important to remember that it adheres to the old adage: What you sow, so shall you reap. If you neglect your health on the grounds of non availability of time, the repercussions will be long term and detrimental. The criticality of an irresponsible lifestyle is generally undermined by the person.

Do not convince yourself that your health will be everlasting without proper care. Optimistic as this may sound, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Never keep away from a healthy lifestyle on the grounds that you do not have access to facilities or that you are addicted to detrimental substances to gain relief from the stresses of a professional career.

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

– An excerpt from ‘Leisure’, the poem by William Henry Davies

I urge all youngsters – the youth of today and citizens of tomorrow – to find joy in taking care of their health and maintaining a responsible lifestyle. Moderation is the keyword here – excess of anything is good for nothing.

“So many people spend their health gaining wealth, and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health.”
– A.J. Reb Meteri

I wish you a happy, healthy and wealthy life.

It’s A Wonderful Life

I recently watched an Oscar nominated 1946 English classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life” , by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart and Donna Reed. The story is set shortly after WW – II, and is about a deeply depressed but good man who gains the attention of his guardian angel. The movie, loosely based on Philip Van Doren Stern’s short story, “The Greatest Gift” is a beautifully woven eye-opener that gets viewers to see the brighter side of life.

Human beings are a progressive lot. We have the inborn nature and ability to succeed in whatever we do. This is why we strive to achieve perfection in our work, life and all that we set out to accomplish.

Take the instance of the golfer. Every golfer tries to drive the ball to a long distance. In the process, errors tend to occur because the game involves the strategic coordination of simultaneous movements. The golf coach always
advises that direction is more important than distance.

This is indeed the same with life. Despite one’s best attempts, there always will be ups and downs. The factors that stand between success and an individual maybe many – family pressure, commitments and work, to name a few. We need to focus upon having a deeper perception about what is occurring around us to be able to rise above our circumstances.

While we are at it, we should remember never to fall into mediocrity and the false feeling of self sufficiency; they are vices detrimental to our growth and success. Constantly endeavour to develop yourself through learning. Enhance your skills through soft skills training. We offer a range of Soft Skills Training to enhance one’s career skills and progress during the economic slump – communication skills training, leadership training, time management training and stress management training, to name a few. Our post training Corporate Programs evaluation have shown a substantial positive increase in organizational productivity (For further reference, please feel free to visit http://www.mmmts.com/softskill_training.htm)

Don’t let the economic recession dampen your spirit of creativity and the fire of enthusiasm – it may look like there is nothing much to look forward to during this dark spell – but take it as a learning period. Things will always look brighter after a while – and when the time comes, you don’t want to be unprepared. It helps to realize that by using one’s potential to the maximum, there is a feeling of achievement, joy and satisfaction. In other words, let success be defined internally for you. When happiness emerges from within you, better satisfaction is gained than trying to gain appreciation from external sources.

In relation to this context, it is worthwhile to remember the saying, “The night is always darkest before dawn.” In today’s age where recession has gripped the global economy with fear, we should smartly and diligently work with the perception that there is hope for the future. Today, we can make the best happen through what we have. Now is the time to work shoulder to shoulder with each other to navigate choppy waters.

Now is the time to look to the future and say, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”